Vedanta and Creation of Cosmos
प्रकृतिं स्वामवष्टभ्य विसृजामि पुन: पुन: |
भूतग्राममिमं कृत्स्नमवशं प्रकृतेर्वशात् ||
(Bhagwad Gita: Chapter 9 verse 8)
Students of science know that the current visible universe along with time originated as a result of a giant explosion 13.7 billion years ago, the event is known to us as “Big Bang” and that the universe is always expanding! In this article we are not going to challenge the experimental evidence but rather we are taking a look at it from the vedanta point of view.
Taking Bhagwad Gita as our guiding source, being the gist of all Vedic knowledge, we know that according to vedic cosmology both space, time and universe are not finite as they do not have a singular point of origin but rather it is considered infinite and cyclic. The universe as we know now is just the start of a present cycle which was preceded by an infinite number of universes and also be followed by another infinite number of universes. So now the question that comes to the mind is What drives the creation of universe? Or How the universe creates and re-creates itself in a cyclic manner?
Modern day astrophysicists and cosmologists based on the principle of general relativity agree to an extent on the concept of initial singularity, according to which at the beginning of the universe, a body containing all mass, energy, space and time in the Universe would be compressed to an infinitely dense point (singularity), which rapidly expanded resulting from the quantum fluctuations and resulted in a rapidly expanding Big Bang and subsequent inflations creating the present day universe.
Vedanta on the other hand gives us the concept of Brahman (derived from root: brah: ‘to grow’) and the Atman both are indestructible and omnipotent. So which among the two is responsible for creation of the universe?
The first mentions of the eternity of universe in vedic literature can be found in the Rigveda’s Nasadiya Sukta (after the incipit ná ásat, or "not the non-existent"), also known as the Hymn of Creation, is the 129th hymn of the 10th Mandala of the Rigveda (10:129) and it raises questions concerned with cosmology and the origin of the universe.
नासदासीन्नो सदासात्तदानीं नासीद्रजो नोव्योमा परोयत्।
किमावरीवः कुहकस्य शर्मन्नंभः किमासीद् गहनंगभीरम् ॥१॥
अन्वय- तदानीम् असत् न आसीत् सत् नो आसीत्; रजः न आसीत्; व्योम नोयत् परः
अवरीवः, कुह कस्य शर्मन् गहनं गभीरम्।
Then even nothingness was not, nor existence, There was no air then, nor the earth, heavens beyond it. There was no space, then who was protecting the space, What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping w as there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed? Means there was nothing!
न मृत्युरासीदमृतं न तर्हि न रात्र्या अह्न आसीत्प्रकेतः।
अनीद वातं स्वधया तदेकं तस्मादधान्यन्न पर किं च नास ॥२॥
अन्वय-तर्हि मृत्युः नासीत् न अमृतम्, रात्र्याः अह्नः प्रकेतः नासीत् तत् अनीत अवातम,
स्वधया एकम् ह तस्मात् अन्यत् किञ्चन न आस न परः।
There was neither death nor immortality nor was there then the appearance of night and day. The One (Brahma) breathed actionlessly in illusion (maya) and self-sustaining. There was that One (Brahma) with maya then, and there was nothing beyond them.
तम आसीत्तमसा गूढमग्रेऽप्रकेतं सलिलं सर्वमा इदं।
तुच्छ्येनाभ्वपिहितं यदासीत्तपसस्तन्महिना जायतैकं॥३॥
अन्वय -अग्रे तमसा गूढम् तमः आसीत्, अप्रकेतम् इदम् सर्वम् सलिलम्, आःयत्आभु तुच्छेन
अपिहितम आसीत् तत् एकम् तपस महिना अजायत।
In Catastrophe, at first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness, All this was only unilluminated water. Action and Cause were merged filled with ignorance, That One (Brahma) took action complementing with cause, resolving to penance created the Universe.
The concept of the universe is also a difficult thing to entertain in the mind unless we analyse the universe into its very components. The universe is manifested out of the total substance, Brahman, which is the Atman, or the Self, of the universe. So the total effect came out of the Total Cause. From Brahman came the universe!
आत्मा वा इदमेक एवाग्र आसीन्नान्यत्किंचन मिषत् । स ईक्षत
लोकान्नु सृजा इति ॥ १॥ (Aitareya Upanishad 1:1)
To understand it better we need to look into the Aitareya Upanishad which belongs to Rigveda and proclaims that the total substance is Brahman, and the Brahman when conceived as the essence of particular beings is known as the Atman. Therefore we can infer that the ultimate in us is the Atman and the ultimate in the cosmos is Brahman.
The views expressed in this article are of author’s own and subjected to interpretation of the reader. The essence of Vedanta lies in understanding and interpreting its meaning on their own. Readers can send their views and opinions in the comments section.
1. Shrimad Bhagwad Gita; Gitapress Gorakhpur
2. Swami Ranganathananda (1991). Human Being in Depth: A Scientific Approach to Religion. SUNY Press. p.21. ISBN 0-7914-0679-2.
3. A Vedic Reader for Students  Translator: Arthur Anthony Macdonell
4. The Principal Upanishads, S. Radhakrishnan, Harper Collins. 24th ed. 2014
About this section
This page hosts articles that are produced from my contemplation on topics and principles of Vedanta, which I prefer to see in the context of modern life and scientific education.
One question that has been bothering mankind since time immemorial is, what happens to us, where do we go once our body is dissolved. Various theories have been proposed by systems after systems, the dualists speak of threefold eschatology, where when a man dies he goes to heaven or goes to the sphere of the wicked persons to roam as ghosts and demons or falls back to earth only to be reborn as animals, here the non-dualists or Advaitists ask, how can one come and go, and to what place, especially when one is infinite? The very question of birth and death concerning this soul turns out to be nonsensical, as the soul or the self of the man is omnipresent and everywhere and the talks of birth and death, of havens and higher, havens, are a childish dream and vanishes the moment one realizes the truth.